Why Banks and NBFCs must exercise extra cybersecurity measures during festival times?

The holiday season tends to manifest itself as a fitting period for cyber-attacks and data breaches targeted at banks, NBFCs, and payment companies. Factors such as the rise of e-commerce, the switch to the digitization of processes, and the increase in buyer activity provide a considerable onus to various cybercriminals for putting their diabolical plan into action. While finance organizations remain in the high-threat zone throughout the year, the chances of cyber assaults during festivities multiplies manifold due to the substantial surge in purchasing activity and online transactions. Banking and NBFC institutions must exercise their utmost vigilance and countermeasures to uphold their cybersecurity defenses during the festive season.

It is known that cyber miscreants leave no stone unturned in their bid to seize control of company data, conduct identity thefts, or raid an organization’s financial assets. All this can cost companies a setback worth billions of dollars. But coupled with the distractions and a sense of workplace complacency that are characteristic of the holiday season, cybercriminals are awarded an ideal time for unleashing a wide range of cyber assaults that can result in financial losses that have far-reaching ramifications.

The rapid advancement in technology and digital innovation has provided various malicious threat players like super shadowy APT (advanced persistent threats) actors, state-sponsored campaigns, hacktivists, ransomware artists, etc. with a state-of-the-art infrastructure that constitutes futuristic tools, resources, and knowhow.
With threat actors having access to such boundless technological prowess, it is obvious that banks and NBFCs should also ensure the latest innovations in the fields of cybersecurity and threat counter systems. With the global payments’ ecosystem projected to rise from $79.3 billion in 2020 to $154.1 billion by 2025 at an annual CAGR of 14.2%, the stakes in the question are sky-high.

The amount of in-depth research, analysis, and tech-capacity employed by cybercriminals that goes into conducting a high-grade cyber strike is second to none. Therefore, it is most pertinent that Banking and financial organizations invest appropriately in warranting effective cybersecurity solutions that can efficiently neutralize any impending attack or threat.

Multiple aspects can render a financial company susceptible to cyberattacks. While the holiday season may usher a level of carelessness among distracted workers, the overarching permeation of digital modes has also resulted in a majority of transactions being conducted through online credit channels. This leads to financial organizations and payment companies become vast storehouses of data, collating sensitive personal information, and credentials of countless users.

To that end, cyber miscreants are always on the lookout for that crucial chink in a financial company’s defensive armor. They are frequently seeking new and improved ways of infiltrating the security systems to steal critical digital identities, breach classified databases, or simply steal excessive amounts of the capital fund. The instant monetizable value of the bank’s assets levies a huge value when resold or auctioned in underground marketplaces. The impetus for cybercriminals in breaching through financial organizations’ defenses is so high that the latter must exercise imperative caution and cybersecurity measures to safeguard company valuables, especially during holidays.
There is also a slew of other factors that account for festive seasons observing a higher degree of the cyber onslaught.

The lack of serious implementation in net-neutrality laws, accumulation of user-data amongst a few chosen banking and financial enterprises, rising dependency on inter-connected devices, the shift to remote working in wake of the pandemic, and lack of best cybersecurity practices on the part of employees also endangers the monetary and non-monetary assets of a company to a great extent. The ever-expanding threat landscape is further amplified through the participation of rogue states that endorse strategic strikes on institutions or national bodies with surgical precision.

There have been numerous cases of hostile nations supporting and financing various threat players and campaigns to carry out covert attacks on enemy states in the recent past. These result in severe market disruptions and geopolitical turbulence which can prove highly detrimental for a country and its economic health.

It is highly essential that banks frequently upgrade their cybersecurity stack and impose high levels of defensive measures to effectively handle cybersecurity threats, particularly on holidays. As bank holidays and off days extend ample opportunity to cyber assailants for evading security systems and staying undetected for a long time. This enables them to plant backdoors, insert viruses or bugs, conduct extra strikes or transfer stolen capital and assets. Thus, safeguarding their assets and increasing the cybersecurity measures should be the foremost priority of banks and NBFCs on holidays and festive periods.

Some international regulatory bodies also charge a statutory fine when companies fail to observe the standard defensive measures even after persistent reprimanding. It is also highly important for companies to closely assess their cyber insurance plans as basic insurance does not mean that their assets are included in the safety cover.
Also, cybersecurity models are effective only when companies pay close regard to the directions of cybersecurity experts. Companies must utilize the expertise and guidance of various autonomous cybersecurity instruction bodies such as the NICE (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) and KSAs to warrant the highest levels of training for cybersecurity professionals.

While sufficient investment in cybersecurity defenses, encouraging best practices, and constant renovation of earlier stacks is a must for companies; only an experiential and threat-based real-time simulation model can help in equipping cybersecurity professionals with the necessary know how for neutralizing cyber threats, attacks, and breaches of varying levels.